If someone you love is suffering from dementia, you may wonder what you can do to help them. If you do decide to help through assisted community living, you can benefit from the therapy available to seniors. This takes a lot of the load and burden off of your shoulders and helps you cope with these tremendous life changes.
Here are some warning signs to look out for, and important things to remember when caring for someone with dementia.
1. Memory Loss Is Not the Only Sign of Dementia
Although trouble with memory is a big part of dementia, there are other more subtle symptoms to watch out for. These include difficulty with expressing themselves or finding the right words to say. A conversation with them may prove difficult or tedious. Mood changes, depression and apathy can also be early signs of dementia. At times, they may seem confused or even indifferent. And the symptoms may vary from person to person.
2. Dementia Is Not a Normal Course of Aging
Although dementia does affect older people, did you know that many folks under the ages of 65 can also suffer from it? And just because someone is aging does not mean you can expect them to suffer dementia. Dementia is caused by other diseases in the brain. This could range from tumors to infections, vitamin deficiencies or trauma and stress.
3. Dementia Is a Result of an Illness - Not a Disease Itself
When we say someone is suffering with dementia, what is really happening is that their body is affected by other diseases, and those diseases are causing dementia. Dementia is a very general term for the loss of intellectual capacity, brought about as a result of those other illnesses.
4. Dementia Is a Global Health Issue
This is a condition that does not discriminate. Dementia affects over 46 million people worldwide -- it is not just an issue that those in Western countries have to deal with. It's also known to have a greater effect on women, and has become the leading cause of death in women in the U.K.
5. While We Cannot 'Cure' Dementia, We Can Help Our Loved Ones Cope
The time invested in caring for a person with dementia is never wasted. If one is patient and willing to learn or re-learn good communication skills, you will be able to handle the person, no matter how difficult the situation.
6. A Memory-Care Provider Is a Great Way to Get Specialized Care
Although most older people prefer to stay in the familiar comforts of their own homes, those suffering memory loss and Alzheimer's will need special attention. A memory-care facility can be the most helpful solution to ensure their health and safety. Here, they will be able to receive the help that they need with daily tasks, and be tended to by specialists.
7. Improving Communication Skills Is Key
One important thing that will make caring for those with dementia less stressful is if you adapt your mindset to their situation and learn how to communicate better. As your loved one's behavior becomes more difficult to cope with, knowing how to handle them through the right words and messages will be vital to keeping your own mind level-headed and alert. A positive disposition can be learned; you can strive for patience when listening and responding to them. Try to think about the underlying feelings that they are not able to communicate.
8. When All Else Fails, Hold On to the Memories
You will always have the good times to look back on. If your loved one is suffering memory loss and it is difficult to communicate with on a daily basis, just remember the good times. If it is easier for them to recall what happened years ago than what they ate for breakfast, then focus on those happier memories instead. Refraining from expecting too much of them at once will also make you feel less stressed.
9. A Sense of Humor Will Save Your Sanity
While not using humor at the person's expense, learning to laugh at the little things and "let them go" just might be your saving grace. Don't expect the person to retain all of the social skills they used to have, and don't take them too seriously if they come off as negative suddenly. Just know that this is a cause and effect of the underlying disease their body is dealing with, and try to maintain your sense of humor whenever possible.
10. Encourage Socialization With a Specialized Facility
Communities that are set up to care for those with dementia also focus on community and personal needs. Your loved one will benefit from the many activities available to them, and you will diminish your chance of burnout.
It's essential to pay a visit to an assisted living community to find out your options or get counseling if necessary. Senior living has special needs and these facilities bring them all into consideration. Those who live in these homes benefit from new friendships. This type of social interaction is important for their productivity and well-being.
For more information about Heritage Villas, give us a call today.